Does Week 1 Matter? (04/13/16)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Does the first week of the MLB season matter?

We are a week into the baseball season. Teams have played between five and eight games. For some, it has gone better (Cubs 6-1) than for others (Twins 0-7). It is easy to overreact (World Series or bust) to these short stretches of play, but due to the small sample size the first week of the season doesn't change the outlook for most teams.

Using our full season projections and our preseason projections we look at how each team's projected win total has changed one week into the season.

Eleven teams saw less than a one game change in their projected win totals while 80 percent of the league had win total changes of less than three games. Still, for a few teams, the early season results have significantly impacted our projections for them.

Baltimore Orioles

Buck Showalter's club is undefeated. The 7-0 start, the best in O's history, has helped increase the team's projected win total by 4.6 games. Baltimore sprinted out of the gate thanks to some hot bats. The Orioles are top five in the majors in runs scored, home runs and batting average. The pitching staff has been good too ranking third in the AL in ERA. The O's aren't going 162-0 and they are still projected to miss the playoffs. However, the team's chance to reach the postseason has nearly doubled (17.6 percent to 33.5 percent).

New York Mets

This is not the start the Mets were hoping for after last season's World Series run. New York has lost four straight and the offense is slumping. Just once this year has the club scored more than three runs in a game. The Mets rank 29th in run production and last in home runs. Last year's NL Champions were just one of two teams projected to top 90 wins this season. The rough start has knocked 3.7 games off of New York's projected win total. More concerning is the team's playoff probabilities. The Mets were 77.7 percent likely to return to the postseason before the first pitch was thrown, now it is closer to 50/50 (55.1 percent).

For most clubs, the first week or so of the season doesn't alter their projected course. However, for teams like the O's and Mets, we may look back at early April as the time when their seasons turned for better or worse.

Win Total Changes

Team Preseason Updated Difference
Baltimore Orioles 77.0 81.6 4.6
Colorado Rockies 70.5 74.1 3.6
Pittsburgh Pirates 85.8 89.2 3.4
Chicago Cubs 93.1 95.3 2.2
San Francisco Giants 85.0 87.1 2.1
Detroit Tigers 78.1 79.8 1.7
Cincinnati Reds 70.8 72.5 1.7
Washington Nationals 88.2 89.7 1.5
Milwaukee Brewers 71.9 73.2 1.3
Los Angeles Angels 78.0 79.2 1.2
Cleveland Indians 82.0 82.9 0.9
San Diego Padres 72.6 73.5 0.9
New York Yankees 84.5 84.8 0.3
Boston Red Sox 85.1 85.3 0.2
St. Louis Cardinals 86.5 86.4 -0.1
Tampa Bay Rays 78.2 78.1 -0.1
Philadelphia Phillies 70.2 70.1 -0.1
Los Angeles Dodgers 89.4 89.1 -0.3
Atlanta Braves 66.0 65.6 -0.4
Kansas City Royals 85.7 85.0 -0.7
Houston Astros 87.2 86.4 -0.8
Arizona Diamondbacks 84.2 83.1 -1.1
Oakland Athletics 73.5 72.3 -1.2
Chicago White Sox 83.2 81.9 -1.3
Toronto Blue Jays 86.5 83.8 -2.7
Miami Marlins 82.3 79.6 -2.7
Seattle Mariners 81.2 78.3 -2.9
Texas Rangers 83.4 80.0 -3.4
New York Mets 90.7 87.0 -3.7
Minnesota Twins 79.2 75.0 -4.2